Wind energy outstrips nuclear power thanks to Hurricane Gonzalo

Britain’s wind turbines generated more energy yesterday than the country’s nuclear power plants, the National Grid says.

Wind farms provided 14.2 per cent of all power generated, while nuclear plants produced 13.2 per cent.

Gales resulting from the tail end of Hurricane Gonzalo boosted wind power, while nuclear operations was curtailed by problems at several plants. Nine reactors at four nuclear plants are currently offline due to unplanned maintenance and refuelling, energy news website reported.

Wind farms have proven controversial in the UK, causing protest in many rural communities. This year, protesters have rallied against new wind farms in Anglesey, East Yorkshire and Sutherland.

But yesterday’s performance comes on the heels of another milestone, when wind energy generated a record amount of power on Saturday – 6,372 megaWatts, according to the National Grid.

This accounted for nearly 20 per cent of the UK’s electricity, the BBC reports, although weekend demand for power is comparatively low.

The government said the UK’s energy security was guaranteed by developing several sources of power.

“We’re preventing a predicted energy crunch by turning round a legacy of underinvestment and neglect,” the spokesman told the BBC. “To deliver this, we need a diverse energy mix that includes renewable sources like wind and solar alongside nuclear and technologies like carbon capture and storage so we can continue to use fossil fuels in a cleaner way.”

Nevertheless, the government still offers higher long-term subsidies to nuclear than to wind power.

Jennifer Webber, a spokeswoman for RenewableUK, a trade body representing the industry’s interests, said: “Wind power is often used as a convenient whipping boy by political opponents and vested interests. All the while, it’s been quietly powering millions of homes across the UK and providing a robust response to its vocal detractors.”